From an announcement from Daniel Galhardo on the Tenkara USA page on Instagram:
To my dear tenkara community,
Twelve years ago I set out to change the way we think about fly-fishing by introducing the Japanese method of fly-fishing, tenkara, outside of Japan. This has been a tremendous journey filled with incredible memories, growth, learning, and community building. I am very proud of the success we have achieved so far with tenkara, the community that has sprung around it, and the team I have worked with for the last 12 years. The Tenkara USA brand is something of which I am very proud of. The brand is a result of an incredible amount of work, sweat and tears and the time spent building it will always be a part of my life that I feel proud of.
Now, it is time I pass on the torch. I feel very good about sharing the news that I am passing the torch on to new owners who will continue the soul and vision behind Tenkara USA while allowing it to grow to new and exciting levels.
As of today, I am no longer the owner and CEO of Tenkara USA. I’m excited to announce the ownership transition to the founders and team at Aestuary.
The foundational Tenkara USA team who you’ve grown to know and love over the years will continue to champion our brand and serve the tenkara community. TJ and John will remain your main points of contact and are excited for the opportunity to become more involved within the community. The Tenkara USA team will continue to carry on the mission, but now with further support from a larger family. Over time you will get to know the new ownership of Tenkara USA just as I have. They are a great team and I feel good about handing the reins over to them. I have spent several months working with them and I wouldn’t pass “my baby” on to anyone I didn’t trust to take Tenkara USA to new heights.
I feel strongly that this is the right time to transition the brand to new hands. I have done what I set out to do in creating and laying the foundation for Tenkara USA to flourish. The new leadership is ready to infuse it with the energy and drive you all deserve. On a personal level, I have always thrived in change. I love creating and learning, and now I am excited to have the opportunity to explore what may come next for me personally. And I certainly am excited to also see the places Tenkara USA can go.
Thank you all so very much for the support for the last 12 years, and for allowing me to share the tenkara story with you.
I hope you will continue to support and follow Tenkara USA, great things will continue to happen as tenkara continues to spread.
Is it bad that I’m celebrating this? I know Daniel was a driving force in introducing tenkara to the world, but in the time I’ve been into tenkara (just 3 years), I’ve seen and heard little of him and his company. The company’s competitors continue to make new and interesting rods, and Tenkara USA has… introduced a handkerchief? It’s a company I don’t even think about when it comes to buying new rods, and because I wasn’t around in the company’s (and tenkara’s) early days, I have no especially warm feelings toward TUSA that others seem to have. I’d like to see them do something under newer leadership.
Here’s my read: Daniel did what he set out to do in the way he wanted to. In recent years (practically the entire time that I’ve been involved in Tenkara), he also was pretty open about some of his wanting to step back from social media at least.
Daniel and his early supporters also did a lot of the heavy lifting that opened up opportunities for a lot of other companies to make a buck here or there and fill other niches that TUSA didn’t want to pursue or feel like they could do justice. I don’t think anyone is getting dot-com rich on Tenkara, I just don’t see any way that it is possible.
It can be exhausting and destructive to try and be everything to everybody in any business situation, I’ve seen and lived it first hand – and in that sense, I totally appreciate some restraint and focus.
I appreciate the variety and choice we have in the market. As you have highlighted in your videos, some cheap rods are surprisingly good. I work in wireless – in the 90’s, a radio link to get you a couple of megabits per second a couple miles would cost you thousands of dollars --but it is a commodity now and you can do it for tens of dollars and the kind of work I used to do is no longer viable/needed. I expect that in fishing like in other hobbies I’ve got experience in, consumers are generally unaware of what it takes to keep a business going.
In the case of my discretionary dollars and where my brand fondness/loyalty/appreciation goes, the story does matter a bit to me. My fondness for brands in my hobby space has a lot more to do with what I see them having contributed overall. TUSA rods are and have been important to me, but they aren’t my main go-to much of the time (but you can pry my collection from my cold, dead, hands). Businesses come and go and have no inherent right to succeed, so who knows what the future will hold.
I hope he got what he thought he deserved in the sale, either way it seems like the case of swimming against the current and surviving to do it again while making a pretty big impact on people like me and being a key enabler to many others (business wise).
Having done a bit of light research on Aestuary, I think were going to need more details before we know what the future holds for TUSA and Daniel Galhardo. This could be an attempt to compete more effectively in online retail.
I feel much the same way. I know the rhodo isn’t a “great” rod, but for me, and the type of fishing I do, it’s pretty close to a “perfect” rod. I’m not the kind of person who constantly tinkers and tries new things once I"ve found something that works, so I would say without hesitation that the rhodo is the one rod I would keep if I could only have a single tenkara rod.
Other tenkara company owners manage to be business owners, be active on forums like these and Facebook groups, and continue to release new and interesting rods that are different from what is already on the market.
Lets see where these companies land after 12 years. It is also far easier to draft than it is to blaze a trail.
My only note is that I often do not see the point of criticizing a company unless they have done some specific harm.
I think it is fair to say that doing anything in the business world for 12 years and still having success is a positive thing and also fair if the founder wants to pass the torch and move on.
I feel tusa has some great products. Not all of them are for me, but a couple are close to perfect. Just like any company there will be great rods and some duds. I suspect tusa might have the majority market share of domestic rods.
Another perfect rod for me is the nissan royal stage. Nissan has done nothing for me or my tenkara journey accept provide that wonderful product. I dont need them to be present in social media or my tenkara education. I dont need them to innovate a new product.
Would you bash nissan or suntech for not educating you, or designing new products?
Could I bash on Nissin or Suntech for not being more involved in American tenkara or for building rods for American tenkara anglers? Sure, I could. I don’t think that’s their focus or market, so I don’t feel it necessary.
I don’t think it’s a bad thing to hold a company to task for what seems to me to not being more involved in its target market. You are free to feel otherwise.
In other fishing disciplines most tackle companies, just sell their tackle. Some never contribute to the community, and some have limited public visibility. Some of this has to do with cost of the publicity to gain a customer and different companies have different strategies.
I will say that Tenkara rod companies are very agressive. Perhaps because it is niche within niche market and competitive. But consider this. Even companies like Discover Tenkara have hit a plateau and have not released much in a couple of seasons. Either there is no money in it or there is nothing more to share. I suspect money out did not return investment.
I am just trying to minimize, the what have you done for me lately…sentiment, and to try to promote some thankfulness and positive waves.
I wonder if it’s a part of being an older person (mid 40s) who doesn’t really engage in much social media, but I don’t feel like any company has an obligation to engage with it’s customer base beyond creating a good product. That being said, I feel like TUSA, with the initial video content they created, did more than enough. At this point, there are enough tenkara rod sellers out there that I’m not going to buy something from a company just because they’re engaging on social media. I’m only going to buy stuff that I want.
I also actually applaud companies that don’t chase the annual retail cycle by releasing “new” products that are only slightly varied from existing products. I mean, who really needs 10 tenkara rods anyway?
I think its a natural evolution of any marketspace where the first in usually isn’t the last standing and from a business perspective sometimes you hit a ceiling where you’ve taken a company as far as it can go and you need the expertise and resources a VC to grow it further. It will be exciting to see what happens next for the company but I do see signs of Tenkara as an industry becoming mainstream with goliath companies like Cabela’s now carrying a scant offering for the time being.
I have an appreciation for TUSA. That was one of just two brands that were available locally here in MT and the one that started my tenkara journey. I no longer own any of their rods, but my interactions with the company were positive and the customer service was very good. I don’t pretend to know the why behind the change, but I wish DG the best in his future endeavors.